Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Huntin' for a tool

Ask and you will receive, that’s usually the case. For once, Google isn’t giving me what I want, so I’ll need to resort to the blog, in the hope this gets picked up by someone who has already done it. Hopefully someone who doesn’t make their explanation too technical or expect me to download anything.

There is a lot around at the moment about how our electronic content is gradually replacing physical content and the various advantages and disadvantages that brings. One of the disadvantages is that you there is a need to hold more in your memory, to remember what you need to remember. One of the reasons so many people (that means you, most of my readers) horde books is that they serve as a memory-bank for us, we can idly scan over the bookshelves and they will remind us of something we once read that was useful, inspiring or just funny. The computer, though wildly rich in scope, is always looked at through a single window and I find lists difficult to scroll through. Search makes it easier and I am now fully converted to the ‘search don’t sort’ principle, especially as Google is generally intuitive enough to understand what you mean once you have conversed with it enough to understand the kind of fragments it understands.

But all of these methods really require the necessity to have at least a kernel in your head or a reminder set up. For me, cursed with a frequently blank memory, tagging helps to create an archive of my trawls through cyberspace. The tags mean you can also look through lists of what you think you might have come across in different groups. But despite my forays into some spectacular things (see right) I haven’t found quite the tool I want.

Which is:
Something that will make all my links look like bookspines, arranged on a bookshelf. Each different tag could have a colour and links with several tags can have several colours, of course. They could be arranged by order, colour or size, the size of the spine being dictated by how much text there is in the title - I feel this touch would give the variety I need when looking over the ‘shelf’, otherwise it will just be lots of similar looking blocks. Perhaps the size could also relate to the size of the page referred to, but I feel the former option is more feasible. Looking at soup and spacenav, I’m sure some exciting things could be done to create shelves that move around based on their relationships and even moving out into other people’s libraries a la LibraryThing and their books. Oh, but apart from all the fancy stuff I want to be able to put the shelves into a PDF so if I like I can print them to put on the wall or in a folder.   

It’s no big departure from the way works anyway, but this exact visualisation would really make me happy. Can anyone point me to where it’s already been built?

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